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Have the Conservatives fulfilled Theresa May’s pledge to become Britain’s workers’ party? Not as it currently stands, writes Tonia Novitz. She explains what the actual plight of British workers is, what steps have been taken by May’s government to address it, and why they fall short of what is needed.
Can the Tories can become ‘the workers’ party’? This was the latest ambition of Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP. Observing the decline in support from women and those under 30, he sought a rebranding to revitalize Conservative popularity. His pitch for a ‘workers’ charter’ might be equated with what is currently envisaged in the Taylor Review initiated by the government, but if so such a charter would be hollow and inadequate. Much more would need to be done. Continue reading
The British prime minister Theresa May called a snap general election in the expectation that it will deliver her a substantially increased parliamentary majority. This in turn would give her the “strong and stable government” she hopes for as she enters the crucial Brexit negotiations.
So far, opinion polls suggest that the Conservatives have a large lead over Labour. But in order to attain the desired majority, they need to win a substantial number of seats from Labour. There were, however, fewer marginal seats following the 2015 general election than after any previous election since World War II – just 42, for example, where Labour won by a majority of less than ten percentage points over the Conservatives.
If the Conservatives were to win all of them, they would have 374 MPs in the new parliament compared to Labour’s 195 and a majority over all parties of 98.
So how winnable are those 42 seats? The likelihood of many Labour voters from 2015 switching to the Conservatives in 2017 is small, so the Conservatives will have to gain most of the extra votes from other sources. One likely source is those who last time voted for UKIP. Continue reading
Tonia Novitz is Professor of Labour Law, specialising in labour law, international trade and human rights.
Since Tonia and Michael’s last blog of 12 October 2015, the Government has now abandoned proposed restrictions on unions’ freedom of protest away from the workplace, probably because even the police did not identify a problem with the existing legal framework (see the response to consultation). But the government still wishes to amend the Code of Practice on picketing to cover e.g. intimidation on the picket line and the ‘responsible’ use of social media in strikes, with uncertain legal effect. No wonder the Trade Union Bill has been opposed not only by trade unions, such as Unison and Unite, but also by human rights NGOs. See for example the Joint Statement by Liberty, the British Institute of Human Rights, and Amnesty International.
The original blog follows.